I was with an entrepreneur recently discussing ways in which he could improve his business in 2015. One of the ideas that I had suggested for 2014 had worked well for him. It involved a method to help reduce his inexperienced staff from making errors. This one idea alone has helped save him time, money and frustration.
But you don’t need to have goals only for the whole year. You can also have goals for the month ahead in which you try to increase performance, better manage your finances and attract new customers.
You might think otherwise but if you don’t have a product or service to sell that appeals to customers, you really don’t have a business. This is why it’s important right now to look at your products and services and see that they are the best that you can offer. For example, products need to be merchandised attractively so that they are enticing to potential customers. Product packaging is also important. If you sell a range of products, make sure that you have all the models in your range available. Out of stocks can be frustrating for potential customers.
If yours is a service orientated business, then make sure that your service is as good as if not better than your competitors. Your service methods need to be up-to-date. For example an electrical services business needs to know a lot more these days about energy efficiency methods and renewable energy.
Small businesses have the advantage in being able to offer superior customer service. Look at any local or city newspaper as well as the Internet and you’ll find that consumers and customers are highly frustrated with the level of service that they are receiving from large companies. A caring attitude goes a long way. Offering superior service often cost no more than training your staff to deliver the best possible service that they can.
A survey of local entrepreneurs showed that new marketing methods to attract new customers was one of the priorities for 2015. Have you thought of ways to come up with new ideas for your marketing and selling? Depending on the nature of your business, social media may work well. But don’t overdo it. I recently received a sales message from a supplier on a Sunday expecting me to make a decision. Keep up-to-date with new marketing approaches and methods or use marketing and advertising that you may not have used before such as local radio.
Small businesses watch their finances like hawks especially in this economy. But relentless financial management pays off. Small business owners struggle most with cash flow but there are other areas that often require attention. A more stringent policy may be required for taking on new customers and giving out payment terms. It’s always wise to get as much money upfront before you deliver the product or service. Especially if you don’t have a history with a particular customer. Some larger companies don’t have any qualms about making you wait months for your money so red flag late payers. Your staff can be a great help in preventing losses in your business such as theft. One employee was discovered by other staff members loading goods onto a truck and because they know it’s in their best interest to to help the small business that they’re working for, they reported it to the manager. Stock theft, slow-moving inventory and cash tied up in work in progress drain your finances. Watch out for these.
In this country small businesses don’t have a great reputation for managing their health and safety risks. You can set your small business apart by taking Occupational Health & Safety seriously. Familiarise yourself with the legislation or get someone to advise you. You can start immediately working on developing a safety culture at work by encouraging your staff to report anything that is unsafe. Slips, trips and falls involving both staff and customers will be costly for your small business. If your staff see something unsafe, they should report it immediately. Encourage them to speak up and say something about what they see. If you haven’t done enough about health and safety risks in your business, perhaps it’s time that you need to do a risk assessment of your operations.
Whether yours is a start-up or existing small business, you may want to consider getting yourself a copy of “Breakthrough Ideas”. It’s a resource that will help any business come up with new ideas not only for new products and services but also for optimising operations. The book will soon become available and if you want to be placed on the priority notification list, shoot me an email. Do it now. It could save you a lot of money and help you come up with new opportunities.